I love Beijing! I’ve called this bustling city home for nine years and I can’t say enough about how well China has treated us. Of course life in this metropolis isn’t without its downsides, and we all know what the biggest one is… air quality. At least in my books, dealing with pollution is my greatest heartache.
Thankfully I have many tools in my naturopathic tool box to help counteract smoggy skies; one of those tools is the neti pot. Perhaps this is the first time you’ve heard of this curious looking contraption. Picture a small oblong watering can with a long, slim spout. It’s available in various materials, but I prefer ceramic. You can even find it on Taobao! Let me tell you how the neti pot works, and you may also become a fan.
The neti pot provides an easy way to irrigate the nasal sinuses. Flushing the nasal passages with water is a form of hydrotherapy that comes from the ancient medical practice of Ayurveda. This process helps to clear mucous, microorganisms, and debris, including pollution and particles from our nose. This can lead to easier breathing for those with allergies, sinusitis, and colds.
Clearing the “stuff” in our nasal passages helps improve the function of our cilia, the tiny little hairs that line the mucous membranes of our respiratory tract. Cilia trap unwanted particles and prevent them from going into our lungs. Interestingly, some people with headaches and coughs also experience relief using a neti pot. Picture this; pour water into your right nostril while tilting your head to allow the water to flow out the left nostril. In the process your sinuses are cleared and you can breathe easy.
Now on to the practical part of this operation, in order to successfully and healthily use a neti pot the first rule is to never use straight tap water. Water must first be boiled and allowed to cool to a lukewarm temperature. Tap water in Beijing is unreliable in terms of purity (unless you have a good filter installed), so I would suggest using bottled distilled water instead. It is the cleanest option, but you still need to boil the water. No matter what type of water you use, be sure to boil it first.
I also recommend using a saline solution in your neti pot. A saline solution is essentially a salt solution; it’s gentler on sinuses and acts as a disinfectant as well. A simple recipe can be made at home. Place one cup or 240 ml of boiled water in a clean glass or ceramic container. Add ½ tsp or 2.5g of salt to the water, along with ½ tsp of baking soda. For salt I suggest using a non-iodized imported version. The fewer additives the better. Dissolve the salt and baking soda completely, and then transfer your saline solution to the neti pot. Now find yourself a bathroom sink and get ready to have some fun!
Got a question?
Dr. Melissa Rodriguez is a naturopathic doctor and mother of two, who works at Beijing United Family Hospital. To find out more, check out her website at www.drmelissarodriguez.com
Photos courtesy of FreePix.com, BJU, and AIER
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